Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert met Dr Tony Whitbread of Sussex Wildlife Trust for a visit to an area of the Arun Valley which has been given special protection by the EU.
Mr Herbert went to the Amberley Wild Brooks to highlight the benefits of the UK remaining in the EU and was shown the habitat of one of Britain’s rarest animals, the Little Whirpool Rams Horn Snail.
This species has now been given the highest protection thanks to the designation of its habitat as a Special Area of Conservation, defined by the European Union’s Habitats Directive.
The Arun Valley is one of the richest habitats in Western Europe supporting a vast range of wildlife. The area that has been given added protection lies on the Arun floodplain, incorporating Pulborough Brooks and Amberley Wild Brooks which are both SSSIs (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
Dr Whitbread told the MP about the ecological conditions that makes the Arun Valley so special, explaining how the variations in soils and water supply converge in the Valley to create an area that is rich in flora and fauna.
The EU’s Habitats Directive is important because it ensures the conservation of a wide range of rare and threatened species of animals and plants. The Directive forms the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy and establishes the EU-wide ‘Natura 2000’ ecological network of protected areas, safeguarded against potentially damaging developments.
Dr Whitbread, Chief Executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “It was a pleasure to show Nick in person the area which has gained new EU protection, and to spend time talking about the value of the Arun Valley and the importance of nature Directives.
“The Little Whirlpool Rams Horn Snail is an indication of how rich and valuable this site is, making it one of the most important wetlands in Europe.”
Mr Herbert said: “My visit to this amazing area of countryside was a powerful reminder of how important the European Union has been to protect the environment.
“The landscape and nature of the South Downs and the Arun Valley is very special indeed, and the EU has been one of the positive forces ensuring that the countryside we love is conserved for future generations.
“I hope that people will remember the good things which European co-operation has brought us when we all vote in the referendum on Thursday 23rd June.”
The EU referendum on the UK’s membership is today (Thursday, June 23).
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